A New Beginning…

Things were getting better.  No one could say that Brittany had life all figured out, but she was making strides.  She got sober.  Stopped smoking. Turned her back on same-sex romantic relationships.  And she was beginning to come to grips with the reality that some things aren’t fixed easily.  Still, God was bringing her healing.

Then, she found out that the single adult Bible study she’d been attending at church was going to have a new teacher.  He’d come to the church a couple of months earlier as the worship pastor.  No one really knew what to expect.  Everyone in the class was a little nervous that first night.

I was too.  I hadn’t taught a group like that for some time.  Teaching people my own age was something I was OK with.  But I was just beginning to realize that there was a real generation gap between me and these college students.  If this was going to work, I’d need to get their attention right away.  So I hit them with a 2×4.

Metaphorically, of course.  I started the class with a very clear objective.  I would show them love, but that love would often feel like a 2×4 to the skull.  Why?  Because I had recently come through a really tough time in life where I learned that I didn’t listen well to soft, kind words.  More often than not I needed what’s become known as “tough love.”  I promised these young men and women that I would love them, but that they wouldn’t always like what I had to say.  That became known in the group as “love with a 2×4.”

We started by talking a lot about what discipleship was really supposed to be about.  I wanted to go straight to teaching about the concept of the rabbi/talmid relationship in Jesus’ day, but I realized the class didn’t have much CONTEXT for understanding that yet.  So we started by talking about a new way to look at the Bible.  We turned the LENSES around for a few weeks.  We talked about Jewish religious tradition, and how the Scriptures come alive when we view them through that understanding.   I could see the “lights coming on” in these young people’s eyes.

Then we jumped into discipleship.  One thing I hammered into them was that discipleship had little to do with knowledge, and everything to do with active obedience.  Being a disciple isn’t about knowing what the teacher knows, or even knowing what God knows.  Being a disciple is all about becoming like the rabbi.  And our rabbi is Jesus.

The discussions grew more and more lively.  I could tell that the class was getting excited about God; their relationship with Jesus; and yes, even the Bible.  One young lady who I could sense was really starting to “get it” was Brittany.

Then, God directed me to 5 questions.  I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room before an appointment.  I had a lesson completely planned out for that night’s class.  I don’t hear God’s audible voice, but I know when He’s speaking to me.  And He was definitely directing me to ask those 5 questions.  They seemed at the time to be random and disjointed.  They were anything but.

We went through those 5 questions that night. The end result of our discussion was the conclusion that consistent Bible reading could no longer be something that we knew was a “good thing to do.”  It was something our very souls depended on.  And God was working in Brittany.  She started reading the Bible much more regularly.  A few months later, she announced to the class that she was going to try to read through the entire Bible – in 90 days.

I’ve got to honest with you.  I thought she was crazy.  But over the net three months, I saw Jesus in Brittany.  I saw her become more and more like her Rabbi, each and every week.

For Father’s Day that next year, Brittany and the rest of the class gave me something that has become one of my most prized possessions: a 2×4.

Brittany is one of my favorite people in the world.  I’d trust her with my kids – and that is saying a lot.  She loves Jesus with all of her heart and soul.  She wants to obey and serve Him.

She’s growing.  Her relationship with God is stronger than ever.  She loves the Bible.  The stories are coming alive for her and their changing her life.  She’s one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of the Word of God transforming a person.

And this is helping her with other relationships.  She can go home to visit her parents and her brother, without it devolving into an argument.  She’s active in church.  She’s a new creation.

Brittany, you’re a special young lady that God is already using and will continue to use even more.  Stay strong in the Word.  Your courage in letting this story be told will impact countless lives.  I’m proud of you.

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